On translating The Neruda Case

Happy Publication Day to Roberto Ampuero’s The Neruda Case! I am so utterly pleased that this book is finally available in English. Ampuero has been enchanting readers around the world with his bestselling novels for nineteen years now, and it’s just not fair that English-language readers have had to wait so long.

I spent last spring translating this novel, enraptured with the process, utterly absorbed.

The cover of THE NERUDA CASE, out today from Riverhead Books.

I’m honored to have been part of it. One more wonderful Latin American novel breaks the linguistic glass ceiling. Book lovers everywhere, rejoice.

What, you ask, is The Neruda Case about, and why read it? Here’s Publishers Weekly’s

starred review of it:

Chilean author Ampuero’s first novel published in English, a moving fictional interpretation of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda’s final days in 1973, appropriately enough sings with poetic metaphor. Neruda, who’s ill with cancer as Chile teeters toward upheaval because of his friend President Allende’s reform platform, seeks out unemployed Cuban Cayetano Brulé in Valparaíso and hires him to investigate the whereabouts of a former acquaintance, Dr. Ángel Bracamonte. Never mind that Brulé is no detective…The plot twists from Mexico City to East Germany, from lies to truth, from uneasy peace to political coup, from life to death. Read this one as much for the story as for the wonderful way Ampuero has with words.

The Daily Beast picked the book as a Hot Read of the Week, and had this to say:

Pablo Neruda gets the detective treatment, and a character straight out of film noir helps the poet navigate through some international intrigue involving Allende and the Stasi…A superb translation by Carolina De Robertis whips [this novel] into a pulsing, panting work.

I’ve also just published an essay with Publishers Weekly on how translation gives me joy and makes me a better writer, what I love about this book, and what may startle some readers about its take on Neruda’s private life. If you wish, you can read the essay here.

Congratulations to Roberto Ampuero, who is celebrating this day in Mexico City, where he’s currently the Chilean ambassador to Mexico. If you toast with champagne, querido Roberto, I hope you enjoy every drop.

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